We live by a rule when playing tabletop RPGs… that without the players there is nothing. No characters. No adventures. No game. No fun. But within that world, everything and everyone has a story, big or small.
Since our games do revolve around our players and their characters, we really have to choose which stories to tell. We can’t tell them all. We must choose. Sometimes that’s not so easy. There are so many good stories to be told in the strangest places.
Let’s start with setting. Your characters come to the place they will meet their doom and you have to ask some questions… Why here? What brings them to this place at this time? Is it random? Or was it chosen by the parties involved? For what reasons? What came before? Is there a myth or legend about the area? A public event in history or something personal, private, and mysterious?
Obviously we don’t have to ask or answer every question, but it’s worth pondering to get a better feel for the arena of the encounter.
Now let’s look at something a bit smaller… and a bit less specific. Every character has stuff. Not every piece of stuff should have a story, but some things have to be more important than others.
Perhaps the character has a family heirloom or another item they would miss. Something small. Something big. But if it was taken, the character might tear heaven and earth apart to find it. What’s that connection?
Questions like… When did the character get the piece? Who gave it to them and why? What’s its significance? Is it customized or stylized? What are its identifying features? What is it made of? Who made it? Is it damaged? What does it do? How is it used? Are there any tales about its prowess or mystical abilities?
Story infuses everything we do in gaming. I think it can be judiciously be used to add layers to everything we do in gaming. Why not explore a little bit and see what stories you can find when you look a little deeper?